What follows is a partial transcript of a half remembered conversation I had with a friend* while sitting in a local pub** sometime last week. Names have been omitted to protect the naively disillusioned.
Him: Hey, here's a nice little story about some Sens players....a bunch of them were in Jack Astor's yesterday having a bite to eat after their scrimmage. A few little kids, no older than 9, dressed head to toe in Sens gear, went up to them and were ignored by one of the clubs stars....completely ignored. So Spezza comes in to join his teammates at the restaurant and the small kids kind of shyly amble over toward the players again and as soon as Mr Spezza saw the kids he gives them all hellos and high fives and autographs........while the player sitting beside Spezza continues to ignore them. Wanna guess who?
Me: (looking around): Seriously, whose leg do you have to hump to get a beer around here??
Him: C’mon man. Guess who.
Me: Was this an eyewitness account and if so, who saw it? Excuse me! Miss?? Fuck.
Him: My wife’s brother’s girlfriend’s niece was an eyewitness. She didn't know who the other players were....except for the one who never made eye contact with the kids at all. Dany Heatley. The guy is a jerk.
Me: Meh. Maybe it's a distrust of fans bred after the car accident. And even if it's just a touch of the asshole, don't make no never mind to me. There are enough genuinely nice guys on the team to make up for it. And back-to-back 50 goal seasons makes me very forgiving. CAN I GET ANOTHER STELLA HERE PLEASE?? THANK. YOU.
Him: Kids. He did it to kids. Kids who don't care how much money he makes or how many goals he scores. He is a star on the team they cheer for. He is a star they look up to. He's a jerk.
Me: You said that already. Look, remember a favorite trick for memorabilia whores is to send Poor-Little-Timmy in for something, preferably wrapped in a leper's cowl. Big Star signs/gives something to Little Timmy out of sympathy, and twenty minutes later it's up on ebay as a "one-of-a-kind!!" Meanwhile, Little Timmy is at the 7-11, splitting 20 bucks worth of bottomless Slurpees with his peeps. Or maybe he was just having a bad day. Or, maybe he is a jerk. Like I said, I don’t care. The days of holding pro athletes up as role models for kids is long gone, if it ever was to begin with.
Him: Yeah. Guess so. Hey, you gonna drink that?
Me: Probably not. I think the waitress just spit in it.
My point, and I do have one, is this: C’mon Dany. You’re going to be here for the next seven years. Lighten up a bit, okay?